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Africa Online Gets Capital Injection

African Lakes Corp., a company listed on the London Stock Exchange, has raised £17.5 million ($28 million) capital for the primary purpose of expanding its Africa Online Internet service.

With a larger African territorial reach than other ISPs, Africa Online operates in six countries: Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Via acquisition and start-up, and funded by the capital injection, it will expand into six new African territories in the year 2000.

"Africa is undoubtedly an outstanding opportunity for Internet development at this time," said group chief executive, Chris Foy.

"Currently only one in 1400 people in Africa is connected to the Internet -- that compares with about one in four in North America and Europe. The demand for access is huge and the potential to provide relevant services is enormous."

Chris Foy went on to point out that expert estimates suggest that the African host growth rate (excluding South Africa) is at least double the world average.

"This funding will allow us to rapidly expand our Internet activities and move towards our stated goal of becoming 'the Internet gateway to, from and within Africa,'" said Foy.

Africa Online will rapidly roll out e-touch, its public access Internet system, accessed through privately owned communications centres. The company ran a pilot project in Ghana and officially launched e-touch in Kenya in June 1999.

The extra capital will also be used to develop the Africa Online web site portal, with the aim of making it the premier point of reference for information about the African continent. Currently it hosts 12 African newspapers and periodicals, gathering 1.6 million page views and over 500,000 portal site visits each month.



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